15 Minutes

You can do anything for 15 minutes.

I used to love this idea. At the time, I was trying to get my home and my “stuff” under control. We had a lot of stuff and it was hard to wrap my head around sorting through it all. But 15 minutes at a time? I could do it 15 minutes at a time.

Fast forward to today. I still have clutter – as long as I’m living that will probably be the case – but it’s mainly under control. So my 15 minutes these days is being applied to something else. I have gotten out of the habit of exercise, out of the habit of getting moving. I keep meaning to. I’ve bought the shoes. I have the clothes. But whenever I think about getting off the couch and getting outside to do anything, it seemed like too much time and effort was needed to make a difference.

Jon Acuff reminded me about the idea of 15 minutes. That something done just 15 minutes a day can make a big difference over time. He does a challenge of sorts each summer – choose 1 thing and commit to practicing/doing it for at least 15 minutes a day. When I saw the challenge I thought, “I can do this. I can go for a walk for 15 minutes a day. Or do a short body-weight workout. Yup. I can do this.” So I printed the checklist and here we are, 4 days in, and even with a day off because of some physical ailments, I’ve already crossed off 8 squares on that chart of 100 squares. That’s more exercise in 4 days than I have had in weeks. I’m pretty happy with that!

Jon said to pick one thing. Because I like to buck the “rules” a bit sometimes and I like to go above and beyond, I added another “something” to my 15 minutes challenge – writing. Simple things. Deep things. Fun things. Regular life things. Just write. Some days that is going to mean a blog post. Other days it’s just going to be me writing in a notebook or on a piece of paper. I want it to become a habit again rather than just something I do randomly. And I can do anything for 15 minutes!

15 minutes. 25 hours. It adds up. I can’t wait to see the results of those 15 minutes when the summer is over! I’ll try to share my progress here weekly – on Mondays. Should be interesting…..

Want more information about the DO SUMMER challenge? Check it out here!

A Victim’s Response

We’ve all seen the news. We’ve all had reactions of one type or another to the news that a boy/man who raped an unconscious woman only got 6 months of jail time, with a possible early release if he behaves himself. There has been a lot of press covering who he is, what he’s done in life and the occasion that has brought him to the forefront of media attention. But we need to remember that there was someone else there. There was a woman. A woman with her whole life ahead of her. A life that will never be the same again. He will go to jail, serve his time, likely get out for good behavior and then carry on with life. He may face some discomfort but I am sure that Daddy’s money and influence will pave the way to success for him as if nothing had happened. But the same cannot be said for her…..I would know. I’ve walked a similar road. I’ve linked to her statement in full – I encourage you to read it. Trust me. It will be very hard to read. But you need to. Why? Because it’s the same statement many women around the world could make every. single. day. Don’t be fooled. Reporting rates don’t even BEGIN to tell the true story – for every report there are many that go unreported. I would know. I was one of those.

Circumstances were different but the feelings are the same and it took me YEARS to overcome them. YEARS. I can barely read her words because it makes my own experience come back to mind with a vengeance but I SO wish someone had shared with me that I mattered, that my story mattered, that my CONSENT mattered. Maybe then I wouldn’t have engaged in behaviors that harmed me later on, maybe I would have recognized the red flags of abuse in future relationships, maybe…..maybe I would have known my true worth as a HUMAN long before my 35th birthday. It took 20 years to get to that place after all was said and done….20 years and more energy,courage and strength than I knew one person could possess. The fact that this kid only got 6 months for his CRIME is abhorrent to me and is should be to everyone everywhere. Where is the accountability? When did the punishment stop fitting the crime? When did being unconscious downgrade the seriousness of an attack? When did this world become so fucked up as to allow for this kind of injustice??? And how on earth do we turn a blind eye to it?

Does this topic make you uncomfortable? Do you want it to go away? Yea, me too. I don’t enjoy talking about what happened to me or the repercussions of it. Reading this woman’s words makes me sick to my stomach. Sick and angry. So very very angry. It makes me so angry that she was made to feel like she didn’t matter, like her story didn’t matter, like she must have done something to deserve his actions, that she was somehow responsible for his choices. But her words also made me cry as I read her declaration to women, girls, everywhere:

…to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.

Maybe, just maybe, had I had someone telling me the same thing before my assault and living out the truth of that afterwards, maybe things would have been different. I can’t go back there but I can change how things are for others in the same circumstances. I can teach my kids to respect others, to stand up for others, and that their voice matters. I can tell my story so that others know they aren’t alone. I can support organizations and ministries that work to help victims of sexual exploitation and assault. So can you.

You can read her statement here: Sexual Assault Victim Impact Statement

I also need to speak to abusers, to rapists, to those condoning their actions by inaction & victim-blaming. There is help for you. There is hope for you. But more importantly than that there is forgiveness. Do your actions and attitudes anger me? Absolutely. Rightly so. But you do not have to continue identifying with those things. You can change. My prayer is that somehow, someway, you will see the error of your ways and will seek help, will seek forgiveness and will do whatever you can to redeem your past. Just as there are groups for victims of assault, rape & abuse, there are groups for the perpetrators of the same. Please find one today.

Reluctant Realizations

Guess what? You’re on this journey to a better year with me!! Aren’t you excited?? I know I am! I’m going to need your help though – I have a tendency to get excited and start out really well with things and then the excitement wears off and it becomes a slog and UGH! I usually get bogged down and eventually stall. I DO NOT want to do that this year. I NEED to, and my family needs me to, keep on going even when it becomes a slog. Sharing my thoughts along the way is one way I have to make sure I keep on going – a way of being accountable. I am hoping that knowing someone might be reading this just might be what I need to beat those slog days down! Thanks for joining me!

 

Now to what I really wanted to say today:

 

I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking over the last couple of days about how our house functions and the routines that we currently have (even no routine is a routine). The current (lack of) routines aren’t working (as I’ve stated before) so I’ve been trying to put down on paper reasonable routines that work for all of us.

IT ISN’T WORKING!!

Up until now I’ve been getting up at the same time (or close to the same) as all of the children in my house. With a toddler this is almost a given especially when he finds himself in our bed every night – I can’t really get up without him knowing! But the big kids are getting up just after me most days because I am waking them up (problem #1 to be addressed in my mind…at 14 and 13 they should be getting up on their own, IMO!). I haven’t seen this as being a problem until now.

What’s the problem?

I need some alone/quiet time in the mornings to wake up and have a cup of coffee, to read a little, write a little, catch up on Facebook, review what the day holds for us before it actually starts. I also need someone to be somewhat aware of Liam and what he’s doing while I am busy getting ready for the day. If I am getting up at the same time as the big kids, we’re all trying to wake up at the same time, eat breakfast at the same time, use the washroom at the same time…you get the idea. We’re on top of each other! Not such a good thing when you have 2 people who are not really morning people – me!! and Emily – and 2 who are more that way – Isaac and Liam. Most mornings it results in a bunch of not very happy people! THIS IS NOT WORKING! And trying to create routines and order to the morning based on all of us being up at the same time is just crazy – continuing to do what isn’t working while hoping that it will finally work is downright certifiable!

So what’s my solution?

I need to get up earlier than the big kids.

DID I JUST SAY THAT IN MY OUTSIDE VOICE??

This is a somewhat really painful realization for me – I am SO NOT a morning person! And for this to happen it means I have to be up at the same time as my husband. What’s wrong with that?? HE’S A SUPER HAPPY MORNING PERSON! He likes to TALK in the morning! I DO NOT. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to deal with me being in the living room, quietly drinking my coffee, and not talking. It also means I am going to go to bed before 1 in the morning. EEK! But reality is, I need to get the beginning portions of my morning out of the way before the big kids get up so that I can get on with the active parts of my morning while they are in their wake up times. I need their help keeping an eye on Liam without it causing conflicts. Our household needs this just to function smoother. I can’t do this without revamping the bedtime routine. A lot hinges on when I get up.

Oy vey! I am thinking this might be the hardest part about implementing new routines. I was trying to avoid recognizing this need but reluctantly I must. Guess I’ll be setting my alarm tomorrow….

I can do this!

blog imageI’m looking forward to the start of a new year. I can crack open that new calendar and write in the special days – birthdays, anniversaries, etc – and dream about summer plans, possible holidays, special occasions with family, etc. It’s lovely. It’s especially lovely when I find just the right pen, or even better – PENS, to do it with. I’ll admit that I am a bit of a calendar/stationary junkie. This year we have the added need for a calendar/planner for homeschool. We’ve introduced the use of Google calendars but I am a huge paper & pen fan when it comes to planning – my brain just seems to work better that way.

I have to admit that since becoming a “stay-at-home” mom (HAHAHAHA!) I’ve had a hard time finding a system that works for us, for me. I find that most calendars/planners are designed for people who work which was great when I was working. I knew the weekly routine and could set things up accordingly ahead of time. It was fabulous. Sometimes things would happen that would require me to deviate a little from the usual but temporary upsets of the norm were easy to deal with. Being at home with big kids and a baby/toddler hasn’t been so easy.

I’ve been struggling with this for a couple of years now. I’ve also settled into that and been okay with the struggle to a certain degree – it’s become comfortable. But it’s not working and that means change needs to happen. So it’s time to figure out/find/implement a system.

My kids are rolling their eyes at me right now…well, they would be if they weren’t in bed. They’ve heard it before. And watched it fail miserably. Or rather, have watched me fail to follow through miserably. I keep thinking about how things were BEFORE…the LAST time I wasn’t working outside the home. I had a great routine. Housework went like clockwork. Laundry was always up to date, for the most part. There weren’t baskets of unfolded half-clean laundry in my room all the time. I had time for me and my business. It was a well oiled machine. I’ve been having a hard time figuring out WHY it worked so well and the last couple of days it dawned on me. I had a system and I WORKED the system.

So. Back to working the system. No more late nights waiting for diapers to finish washing because I didn’t get them put on in the morning (I MIGHT be doing that right now…maybe. Or maybe not). No more wondering where the day has gone. No more failing to do something because I forgot to write it down. NO MORE FLOUNDERING.

It’s important to me that my kids live in a house that works, a home that is clean and comfortable. A place where they know what to expect and when to expect it. It’s important to me that my husband can go to work in the morning and know that when he comes home dinner will be ready or almost ready and he’s free to relax and enjoy his kids. It’s important to me to have time to connect with friends, to be able to plan errands, to have the freedom to work my business, to have regular sleep! Getting things in order is going to help with that immensely!

A new year. A new plan. I’m excited to see what 2015 is going to bring our family. Knowing that there is going to be a plan and a system in place to help things move along relatively smoothly is freeing. Now to get on with the working it part!

I can do it! I can do it!! I can do it!! One day at a time….

Bittersweet Memories

Routines are hard to change.

Liam and I were heading to the store to do some Christmas shopping. As I drove up Columbia Street, I told my phone, via bluetooth and voice commands, to make the same phone call I have made almost every time I have gotten in the car and headed out to run errands. The ringing of the phone could be heard and then the call connected. Her voice filled my car and my eyes filled with tears. She’s not there and the only way we’re going to ever hear her voice again is on the outgoing message of her voicemail.

My aunt, my dear friend.

See I had this routine. Making phone calls at home with 3 kids constantly clamoring for my attention is always difficult. There is rarely any privacy (if that is needed) and quiet is, well, if you’ve ever been on the phone with me while Liam has been playing dragon you’ll know there is no such thing as quiet. I’ve discovered the best place to make phone calls is in my car between home and wherever I am going.

Lois was always the first person I would call. Sometimes we’d talk for only a few minutes. Other times we’d talk for half an hour. Didn’t matter how long – it was the connection that mattered. The “checking in” that counted.

It’s been 3 weeks since she passed. I’m still having a hard time believing it. And then I am reminded in ways that resemble a hammer to the head, a knife to the heart.

I laid in bed last night thinking about her, of all my memories. There are a lot of memories as I’ve known her for 38 years.

Dancing with complete abandon, while singing as loudly as we could, to the tunes of Mary Poppins on the record player.

Sleepovers every Christmas where cookies would be made and eaten, movies watched, fashion shows (wearing her clothes of course) executed, snuggles had.

Visiting the office where she worked and walking down Victoria Street together to get lunch, feeling oh so very special and important.

Hundreds of thousands of phone calls over the years.

Introducing each of my 3 children to her – she ADORED them and they her. She spoiled them – after school snack wasn’t just an apple with some peanut butter. Oh no. After school snack often consisted of mac & cheese with farmer sausage, or grilled cheese sandwiches, or pie & ice cream! Often it would fill them up so much that come supper time, they weren’t quite ready for it!

Watching and listening to her reading story after story to Liam on our couch just over a month ago.

Family dinners where copious amounts of yummy food was placed in front of us, on a table that was always set beautifully. She had such a knack for pulling together the most mismatched pieces and creating a beautifully comfortable space.

“Shopping” in her closet every time I’d come home for a visit – the woman had incredible taste in clothing! My only disappointment was that our feet were never the same size…mine being 7’s and hers being 9’s.

Driving around town in that little orange “Bug” with the top down in the summer…driving up Columbia Street in the winter in a different “bug” in which the windshield wipers didn’t work very well on a VERY snowy evening. I will never forget Lois driving with one arm out the window, snowbrush in hand, clearing the window every few minutes. We laughed so hard as our feet froze!

She was always the first one to shed tears whenever extended goodbyes were required – and it was not uncommon for those goodbyes to take an hour. Ironically, her own leaving of us was quiet and quick, without any of those difficult and tear-filled goodbyes. She hated them. I hate them.

Christmas this year is going to be filled with bittersweet memories. I expect there will be moments of collective tears as we remember her and miss her presence with us. I also expect there will be quiet moments of weeping after the day is done and all is quiet, when I have nothing but Christmas lights and memories keeping me company, long after everyone else has gone to sleep. While it hurts and it’s hard, I am so grateful that the hurting comes from a place of much love and cherished memories.

Bittersweet memories.

Figuring out this "selfie" thing...not the best picture but memories of a great day go with this (my cousin's wedding)

Figuring out this “selfie” thing…not the best picture but memories of a great day go with this (my cousin’s wedding)

When Life is Noisy & My Voice Gets Quiet

I don’t know about you but I find that the crazier life gets around me, the quieter my voice tends to get. Not my speaking voice, although my family would probably prefer that, but rather the voice that I use to express whatever is in my heart and mind. For some that’s music. Others it is art. Some it’s a physical activity. For me it is writing. When life gets crazy, my thoughts jumble and the one thing that actually helps me process is also often the hardest thing for me to do – maybe because there just doesn’t seem to be time.

Anyway, lately I’ve been really quiet. I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff and many of my thoughts have become all jumbled up and messy. A great big mess of intersecting ideas and thoughts that have turned my brain into a great big room filled with unending noise and mess. It’s hard to make sense of any one idea. It’s exhausting and has me craving escape and retreat, quiet and aloneness.

I’m honestly not quite sure what I would do if I was granted those things. I’ve become so used to functioning in what feels like a perpetual state of mental chaos lately that the idea of stepping into a place of quiet, peace and tranquility is almost frightening. I can hardly hear myself think these days and to suddenly have space to do nothing but hear myself? I’m not sure I would like some of what I would hear.

But I know that taking time every day to do just that, to enter into a place of serenity, peace, quiet and tranquility is essential for me to continue to function well in this life that is mine. Without it I flounder. Lately I have been floundering big time. I have no patience for anything or at least very little. I start my day dreading interactions to come and end it feeling anxious and frustrated. My ability to balance the daily chores and needs of my family has dwindled significantly as the thoughts in my head grow more jumbled.

I find myself craving silence and space. I long to sit down, without being plagued by the thoughts of all that needs doing, and just be with the thoughts that need to be dealt with. My heart is broken and grieving the loss of a dear dear loved one who I wasn’t ready or prepared to say goodbye to a couple of weeks ago. I’m wanting and needing to be alone with all the thoughts/feelings that come from that. I am trying hard to be a good homeschooling mom, whatever that looks like, but I need time to look over and think through things in order to be prepared for each day. I have a toddler I need to play with, to engage his little mind and body in activities that stimulate and interest him but I need time to bring ideas into being. I have friends that need attention and time. A husband that needs attention and time. A business I am trying to grow. But my brain and heart are such a jumbled mess of all these things that all I want to do is be alone.

And maybe that’s just it. Maybe, after all is said and done, the best way for me to take care of all that needs doing is to take a step back and away, by myself, for a time, and simply spend time alone. It seems almost counter-intuitive to me – that the best way to take care of my family and others is to actually retreat from them. But at the same time, it makes sense. Even Jesus took a step back from ministering to others from time to time. Those who have lived lives of service to others took time away to regroup and re-energize. There are many professions that build sabbaticals into their framework of expectations. Why then, if we allow it for others and have no problem seeing the need for it, is it so hard for moms to allow it for themselves? So hard for me?

I’m not a big “goals for the new year” kind of person but this year that is one of my goals. I want to go away for a weekend by myself, to a hotel somewhere (ideally with a spa! and maybe a giant soaker tub in my room), where I can spend some time taking care of me. Where I can wander nearby shops or go for a nature walk. Where I can enjoy good food, scenery and quiet time. Where I can read, write, plan and organize. I need this.

Sometimes it isn’t always possible to step away from life for a few days and retreat. So what then? I say this to myself more than anyone: a few days away won’t do diddly squat to help if I am not making a point of taking time every day just to be. So it’s time I start carving out thinking time for me. Processing time. Time to be alone with a notebook and a pen, my Bible and my thoughts. I try to snatch moments but often those end up being stolen moments as I retreat for two minutes to pee by myself or in the car as I run to the store for milk. Not exactly good for getting myself back into a good place mentally! So that will be my goal for the next month – to reestablish the habit of alone time.

The noises are loud and my voice is somewhat quiet. But I see hope. I hear the noises getting softer and my voice becoming stronger again. I see chaos becoming order. I see my ability to just be, to listen to what I need to hear, coming back into being. And I feel hope.

Liam My Crazy Little Joy-filled Boy

Liam
My Crazy Little Joy-filled Boy (disregard the mess behind him!)

 

Anniversaries

Usually anniversaries are things we love to celebrate. Whether it be the anniversary of the start of a relationship or of years worked with a single company or recovery from a life-threatening illness or of time sober, they are things we want to note and embrace and take joy in. They are easy anniversaries filled with good feelings.

But there are other anniversaries that are not so easy. The ones that are filled with pain and tears and are so very hard. The anniversary of a marriage failed, of a loved ones’ life-altering injury, a death. These are the ones that often times go unmentioned, unacknowledged and yet cause the greatest pain.

I know about both of these anniversaries but lately my mind and heart has been occupied by the latter of the two. It has been filled with grief and pain. Heartache and sorrow. A deep soul longing to return to a time that is no longer and a relationship that forever is frozen in time.

3 years.

3 years ago we were waiting on a bed in hospice for my mom.

3 years ago my kids & I visited her in her home with our brand new kitten in our hands. She knew us but was so very weak and frail. A few days later she was admitted to hospice.

A few days later she went to be with Jesus.

On Wednesday it will be 3 years since we had to say goodbye to my mom. I know she went to Heaven and I will see her again but in the meantime we have to learn to live life without her here. Some days it’s really really hard. Sometimes it’s a series of days.

Lately it’s been a series of days, almost going on weeks now. I miss my mom. There are so many good things going on in our lives right now, big changes that she would love to be a part of, and so many other things that I would really love to be able to ask her about or talk to her about.

Sometimes anniversaries are easy. Sometimes they are really hard. Both are part of life and we can’t appreciate the one without the other. While I wish with all my heart that this upcoming anniversary wasn’t one that my family had to face, I also can’t help but be thankful for the many years of memories that have made my mom’s passing so hard. I’ll embrace the tears and the painful memories and keep on living life knowing she’d like what she’s seeing.

Below are some of my favorite memories in recent years with my mom:

19648_232729726267_1928899_n

Mom. Snowshoeing at Sunpeaks. December 2009.

230051_6472401267_5878_n

August 2007 – Shareski Wedding in Shaunavon, SK. An epic roadtrip weekend.

226709_6500506267_4661_n

Kamloops Lake at Tranquille. Fall 2007. My kids sure do miss her.

222606_6472501267_1222_n

Sharing a laugh on the shores of Lake Louise. August 2007. Not sure what was so funny but knowing mom it was slightly twisted! 🙂